Growing Futures

Red apples for consumer health

Red apples for consumer health

Understanding how red flesh is controlled in apples speeds up breeding of new cultivars

Consumers are increasingly demanding new products with novel characteristics that also offer them additional benefits beyond simple nutrition. Anthocyanins, the family of compounds that give fruits and vegetables a distinctive red or purple colour, are known antioxidants that confer benefits for human health and wellness.

Red flesh is a common trait in the indigenous apple population of Kazakhstan, but the majority of these naturally occurring varieties do not have characteristics that consumers enjoy, such as good taste and texture. Identification of the gene controlling red flesh has allowed scientists to screen offspring in the apple breeding programme and select those with this desired characteristic for further assessment as potential commercial cultivars.

The red flesh gene has been used to screen young seedlings from the apple breeding programme since 2012. In total, more than 36,000 seedlings have been screened, of which 20,000 were identified as having the red flesh gene and selected for further assessment in orchard trials. Reducing the number of seedlings selected and planted in the orchard has resulted in a saving of more than $200,000 in orchard management and assessment costs.

Created: September 2015

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